BludgerTrack: 53.5-46.5 to Labor

Some slightly better numbers for the Coalition improve their position in the final BludgerTrack reading for the year, although they remain fatally weak in Queensland.

With last week’s results from Newspoll and Essential Research added to the mix, the BludgerTrack poll aggregate records a solid shift back to the Coalition after a recent Labor blowout, converting into a 0.6% increase on two-party preferred and four on the seat projection. The Coalition is up even more on the primary vote, although this is basically at the expense of One Nation (see the sidebar for full results). Furthermore, The Australian published the Newspoll quarterly state breakdowns for October to December this week, which is the last polling data we will get until well into January, and this too has been added to the mix.

I’ve been noting in recent weeks that BludgerTrack’s readings for Western Australia and especially Queensland were looking off beam, and anticipated that the long-awaited addition of Newspoll data would ameliorate this. However, the Newspoll result backed up the picture of a huge swing to Labor in Queensland, of 9%, resulting in a two-party lead of 55-45. Labor’s lead in Queensland has nonetheless narrowed in BludgerTrack this week, reducing their projected seat gain from an entirely implausible 16 seats to a still rather unlikely 11, but this is as much to do with more normal-looking numbers from Essential over the past two weeks than Newspoll.

A very likely problem here is that both Newspoll and BludgerTrack are assuming preferences will behave as they did in 2016, which means a roughly even split of preferences from One Nation. The Queensland state election result suggests the support One Nation has built since comes largely from former Coalition voters, resulting in a stronger flow of preferences to them – of about 65%, in the case of the state election. In the new year, I will begin calculating preferences by splitting the difference between 2016 election flows and a trend measure of respondent-allocated preferences (which have been leaning too far the other way). This will result in more conservative readings of Labor’s two-party support.

In addition to the five seat shift to the Coalition in Queensland, BludgerTrack has the Coalition up a seat in New South Wales – but down two in Western Australia, where the Newspoll numbers (again with some help from a more normal-looking result from Essential Research) have taken the wind out of an outlier result from the state in the Ipsos poll a fortnight ago.

The leadership rating trends have been updated with the latest Newspoll results, producing a slight drop in both leaders’ net approval ratings. However, this too suffers a deficiency to which I will make an overdue correction in the new year, namely that no account is made for the idiosyncrasies of particular pollsters – such as lower approval and higher disapproval ratings from Newspoll, and lower uncommitted ratings from Ipsos. This means changes from week to week often reflect the specific pollsters that have published results, as much as meaningful change in the numbers.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

3,297 comments on “BludgerTrack: 53.5-46.5 to Labor”

  1. I would caution against Reserve Powers being too descriptive. If is impossible to foresee all circumstances which may arise and the QLD situation in 1987 when Jo refused to resign as Premier is one example.

    Personally I think our system has served us well and we should therefore be cautious about changing too much.

    The GG has serious but limited powers granted under the Constitution and through Conventions.

    The Executive’s powers are granted and controlled by the Constitution, the High Court and through Conventions with overall oversight and control through the Parliament.

    I agree with Australia becoming a republic with a President appointed by the Parliament with similar Reserve Powers currently held by the GG.

    Too much fiddling with our current system won’t stand a chance of passing a referendum which is a good thing in my opinion.

  2. Ttfab, a dissolution of the House may be ordered anytime. S. 57 is concerned with double dissolutions. This permits the exceptional dissolution of the Senate, which otherwise enjoys fixed terms.

    The effect of the events of 1975 is that the House may be dissolved by the HoS against the wishes and advice of the PM, and in compliance with the wishes of the Senate. That is to say, regardless of the position in the UK, in Australia the HoS has the power to dismiss a government. The so-called minimalist position would actually increase the power of the HoS vis-a-vis the PM and the House. This would be anti-democratic.

  3. briefly –

    Jackol, the executive power you mention is Crown power, exercised by their proxies, the Minsters. Ministers act in an executive capacity – that is, as delegates of the HoS. Without the powers delegated to them by the HoS, Ministers would have no power whatsoever.

    This is pure sophistry. The GG cannot exercise any such executive power, and a HoS in an Australian republic certainly wouldn’t even have notional access to such power.

    The executive power wielded by the government of Australia comes from the authority of the Constitution. Not the divine right of kings.

  4. davidwh, it is only because the Crown, being hereditary, has permanent tenure that the matter of reserve powers arises at all. If the HoS were to be vulnerable to summary removal by the House or by the House and Senate acting together, their reserve powers would quite literally no longer exist. They would be subordinate to the other parts of the Parliament. This is highly desirable on democratic grounds.

  5. DWH

    Thats why I posted the Irish model . It addresses the very issues you raise.

    We can have a directly elected President whose role is ceremonial not executive.

    In both cases of appointed or directly elected the codification the Irish have done (once a Monarchy) seems to work well.

  6. Breifly, I was not saying that the House of Representatives cannot be dismissed at any time, I was saying that the Head of State, the Queen, cannot perform this function. I was pointing out that only the Governor-General can perform this function. This dissolution power being held only by an official appointed by the head of state is unlike the UK or any other country, save some or all of the other 14 of the Queen`s other Realms.

    Also, the House of Representatives and Senate were not dissolved against the wishes of the PM, the PM who opposed the dissolutions was sacked and replaced by a PM who did advise the dissolutions.

  7. Jackol says:
    Monday, January 1, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    Jackol, there’s a very good book written by Walter Bagehot on the sleight involved in Constitutional monarchy.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_English_Constitution

    In Australia, it was established in 1975 that the HoS can dismiss the House against its will. That is, an unelected person can with impunity dissolve the elected legislative representative body. Properly considered, this is a parody of democracy.

  8. Tom the first and best says:
    Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 12:15 am

    Also, the House of Representatives and Senate were not dissolved against the wishes of the PM, the PM who opposed the dissolutions was sacked and replaced by a PM who did advise the dissolutions.

    A very fine distinction. What we should say was that the G-G appointed a PM who was willing to advise an election be called. The G-G procured a face-saving request from a person who did not command a majority in the House. Such a sham.

  9. briefly –

    In Australia, it was established in 1975 that the HoS can dismiss the House against its will. That is, an unelected person can with impunity dissolve the elected legislative representative body. Properly considered, this is a parody of democracy.

    … I get that you’re still mad about 1975, but you still haven’t answered the question about what other power (executive or otherwise) that the GG or prospective Republican HoS would have that would remotely put them in the same league as the actual government of the day.

    Yes the GG can dismiss the government … and then we go to elections. The GG can’t take over. They can’t change the law. They can’t run the public service. They can send us to an election. That’s their super power.

    And note what happened in 1975 – we had an election, the people got to decide. Democracy in action, as they say. And they decided that Whitlam’s time was up. The people decided that, not Kerr.

    And I maintain that it is our executive governments that wield almost all the power of the state, and it is clearly the executive government that needs to be able to be dismissed in order to balance the tremendous power they have. And they have that power because of the Constitution, not from some magic emanation of the monarch flowing through the GG.

  10. briefly @ #3254 Monday, January 1st, 2018 – 8:19 pm

    Jackol says:
    Monday, January 1, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    Jackol, there’s a very good book written by Walter Bagehot on the sleight involved in Constitutional monarchy.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_English_Constitution

    In Australia, it was established in 1975 that the HoS can dismiss the House against its will. That is, an unelected person can with impunity dissolve the elected legislative representative body. Properly considered, this is a parody of democracy.

    I have no problem with one person, elected or unelected, being able to dissolve the House.

    If the House is not behaving appropriately then that should be a final option to resolving the situation.

    That is why the power exists.

    ’75 demonstrated a flaw in the system as it exists.

    The logical approach is to address that flaw.

    Your approach is to throw out the entire system.

  11. Nothing I’ve seen today and tonight from the direct-elector crowd convinces me a directly elected head of state is the way to go.

    But, as I said earlier, I’ll be interested to see how this ‘debate’ pans out, esp with a republican PM directing it instead of a monarchist PM in Howard.

  12. Fess

    I think the politicians are aiming for something similar to the Irish model.

    That way you can have your Direct Election and a Ceremonial position.

    Of course as you can see my concerns are about the power of the executive as we have it now and I see this as a chance to fix some things we thought had curbs on that power.

    That remains no matter if we become a Republic or not. I just see a Republic getting a constitutional convention going where these issues can be addressed.

    Some of those High Court decisions have changed things from what we thought was the state of play back in 95

  13. guytaur:

    There’s no evidence our politicians are doing anything of the sort. What we have is a brain snap by the PM during the festive holiday period, which is quite likely to be forgotten about come the end of the school holidays.

  14. Barney

    The failure to stop the Postal Survey due to it being Emergency money is one example.

    S44 is another.

    Limits on political donations and Freedom of Speech are another.

  15. I doubt our current government has any intention of doing anything about Australia becoming a republic.

    There are many more important things for them to attend to at the moment.

    For the Coalition it would be internally divisive and the last thing they need after the SSM debate. Shorten, of course, mentions it every now and again simply for that reason.

  16. CT

    I was as surprised as anyone when Turnbull set the hares running with suggestion of Postal Survey 2.

    I think it could be real because we are talking about Turnbull’s political judgement.

  17. Jackol says:
    Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 12:31 am

    It’s not that I’m mad about ’75. It is that there are lessons to be drawn from it. The main lesson is that, as long as the HoS has better tenure than the House, elections are not what they’re cracked up to be. They can be disregarded if an Opposition and the HoS can engineer things to deprive the majority of office. Governments are supposedly made and unmade in the House. Ministers are supposedly answerable to the Legislature. That’s the premise on which we all vote. But this is not necessarily so. In extremis, Ministers may not be required to answer to the legislature but will actually be responsible to the HoS. Since the HoS is unelected, this is the antithesis of democracy. It is implicitly monarchic.

  18. guytaur @ #3270 Monday, January 1st, 2018 – 9:05 pm

    Barney

    The failure to stop the Postal Survey due to it being Emergency money is one example.

    I think they presented a weak case that gave the HC no option but to rule against them.

    S44 is another.

    Which case?

    So far the HC has said if you are a dual citizen you’re gone, as they always have.

    The Gallagher case is the one that could reset peoples thinking.

    Limits on political donations and Freedom of Speech are another.

    What has the HC said on these?

  19. Barney

    High Court said NSW Federal ICAC laws were not valid on donation limits.

    Freedom of speech has been in some ways extended but in others confirmed we cannot prevent the government passing legislation to prevent charities advocating for causes. At least that is what I understand I can’t remember the specific case.

    However I do know the warnings being issued by the charity sector and by groups like Getup!

    The Bob Brown case confirmed right to protest I think along the same lines that got Campbell Newman’s Bikie laws quashed.

  20. For the Coalition it would be internally divisive and the last thing they need after the SSM debate.

    Indeed. And quite frankly I would be disappointed in the extreme if the Turnbull govt is cack-handed enough to bring on a republic debate now when there’s been no public indication or even pressure for it.

    If we’re going for constitutional change then let’s get indigenous Australians recognised in the constitution first.

  21. Barney in Go Dau says:
    Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 12:38 am

    I have no problem with one person, elected or unelected, being able to dissolve the House.

    If the House is not behaving appropriately then that should be a final option to resolving the situation.

    This is a monarchist position. It is by its nature anti-democratic.

    Frankly, it’s more than a little surprising that a blog devoted to electoral politics should attract people who think elections should be able to be overturned by solitary, unaccountable individuals. This is to substitute casual absolutism for stable representative democracy.

  22. Fess

    Thats why Turnbull talking Survey 2 is such an own goal.

    Any model debate elected or unelected will include that recognition. The one the PM has rejected. Most obvious on the QandA programme.

  23. briefly @ #3273 Monday, January 1st, 2018 – 9:14 pm

    Jackol says:
    Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 12:31 am

    It’s not that I’m mad about ’75. It is that there are lessons to be drawn from it. The main lesson is that, as long as the HoS has better tenure than the House, elections are not what they’re cracked up to be. They can be disregarded if an Opposition and the HoS can engineer things to deprive the majority of office. Governments are supposedly made and unmade in the House. Ministers are supposedly answerable to the Legislature. That’s the premise on which we all vote. But this is not necessarily so. In extremis, Ministers may not be required to answer to the legislature but will actually be responsible to the HoS. Since the HoS is unelected, this is the antithesis of democracy. It is implicitly monarchic.

    Your scenario is much more likely to occur with an elected HoS who likely to be a Party hack as opposed to an eminent Australian selected by a 2/3 majority.

    By your second last sentence any legislation passed by the Parliament is the antithesis of democracy.

    This is plainly not true as we elect our Parliamentarians to perform this function, just as we would elect them to choose our HoS if that was the method of selection.

  24. guytaur:

    “Any model debate elected or unelected” will be a red herring and asinine to the conversation. There is no conversation.

    And if there was a conversation in the realm of constitutional change let that be a conversation about recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the constitution. That at least has gone to, what? Two elections now at the hands of the party in govt.

  25. Fess

    Not going to happen unless LNP is forced to. Turnbull has been crystal clear on this. Rejecting Makarratta outright.

    Thats the sad truth.

  26. Barney:

    I’m puzzling over the direct elector argument that a directly elected head of state is vastly superior to a head of state approved by members of parliament because nobody trusts a politician, when said politicians are themselves elected by voters.

  27. guytaur:

    Indigenous constitutional recognition has been the main constitutional reform issue for a few years now, courtesy of the Libs and the ALP. If the govt suddenly wants an about-face on that to something that hasn’t been in the public realm for 2 decades, it will be up to the govt to make that case.

  28. briefly @ #3277 Monday, January 1st, 2018 – 9:30 pm

    Barney in Go Dau says:
    Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 12:38 am

    I have no problem with one person, elected or unelected, being able to dissolve the House.

    If the House is not behaving appropriately then that should be a final option to resolving the situation.

    This is a monarchist position. It is by its nature anti-democratic.

    Frankly, it’s more than a little surprising that a blog devoted to electoral politics should attract people who think elections should be able to be overturned by solitary, unaccountable individuals. This is to substitute casual absolutism for stable representative democracy.

    Since when have we had a democracy?

    We have a bastardised approximation of a bastardised approximation that seems to work pretty well for us.

    That one element must be absolutely democratic when no other element in the system is doesn’t follow.

    If Senate doesn’t pay nice the House can tear the place down and go to a double dissolution but if the House doesn’t play nice then we’re just meant to suck it up.

    There needs to be some mechanism to resolve this and ultimately that is found in the GG’s reserve powers.

  29. fess, the polling suggests that the Republic model preferred by most voters provide for direct elections. In turn, this suggests that unless a direct election model is proposed, there will be no majority for a Republic.

    The promotion of the Republic is not coming from the parties, least of all by the LNP. It’s driven by the ARM. It is community-based.

  30. Confessions @ #3283 Monday, January 1st, 2018 – 9:41 pm

    Barney:

    I’m puzzling over the direct elector argument that a directly elected head of state is vastly superior to a head of state approved by members of parliament because nobody trusts a politician, when said politicians are themselves elected by voters.

    The crazy thing about that is with direct election you are nearly guaranteed in having a politician from one of the major Parties elected, while having Parliament choose the HoS you are almost guaranteed that they won’t be a politician.

  31. Call me a bastard, but I won’t be sorry to see Rupert drop dead.

    He has been one of the most toxic and destructive humans in history.

    ———

    Latham was the reason I deliberately cast an invalid vote in 2004 in both houses (and said so on the ballot papers). The only time I have (knowingly) cast an invalid vote in any election.

    Not that it made any difference in my electorates, nor to the overall outcome.

    I have never regretted that choice. My conscience is clear.

    ———

    Jackol @ #3259 Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018 – 12:31 am

    Yes the GG can dismiss the government … and then we go to elections. The GG can’t take over. They can’t change the law. They can’t run the public service. They can send us to an election. That’s their super power.

    And note what happened in 1975 – we had an election, the people got to decide. Democracy in action, as they say. And they decided that Whitlam’s time was up. The people decided that, not Kerr.

    Completely agree.

    This is the saving grace of 1975, and where all constitutional mechanisms should ultimately lead to for final determination of any unresolved questions or deadlocks: an election (or referendum).

    We can argue until forever about what Kerr did – and I think he was wrong – but the end result was that the decision was handed back to the people to judge and choose, and they did so emphatically, and as a polity we moved on. Whitlam himself accepted that.

    Whatever constitutional arrangements a democracy has, however imperfect they are, it is ultimately the voters’ right and responsibility to resolve such matters. That is what democracy means to me.

  32. Barney in Go Dau says:
    Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 1:57 am

    If Senate doesn’t pay nice the House can tear the place down and go to a double dissolution but if the House doesn’t play nice then we’re just meant to suck it up.

    This misstates the situation. The Senate has the right to amend or reject Bills. Under certain conditions this can lead to the dissolution of the Senate, but only if the House is also dissolved. That is, the Senate has tenure – fixed terms – that may only be broken if the House is also dissolved. This is a powerful restraint on the untimely dissolution of the Senate.

    Prior to 1975, it had been assumed the Senate could not by itself procure an election for the House. This respected the Representative nature of the composition of the House. However, if the HoS plays along, 1975 showed it is possible for the Senate to bring about the dissolution of the House. Unless s.57 triggers exist, the Senate could remain in place even though the House would be dissolved. This places the House – the democratically-elected chamber – in an inferior position. It says elections count only as long as the Senate and the HoS are willing to allow them to count. It’s anti-democratic rubbish.

  33. State government`s being forced to elections by elected Legislative Councils blocking supply was not unheard of back in the day.

    The Cain (Senior) Government was forced out by the Legislative Council of Victoria in 1947 and the ALP ganged up (with the dissident pro-electoral reform ex-Liberals of the Electoral Reform League) to force elections in 1952 because of favourable election results in the Legislative Council election, which were separate until the 1960s, resulting in Cain Senior winning the first ever ALP majority in Victoria.

  34. briefly @ #3288 Monday, January 1st, 2018 – 10:11 pm

    Barney in Go Dau says:
    Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 1:57 am

    If Senate doesn’t pay nice the House can tear the place down and go to a double dissolution but if the House doesn’t play nice then we’re just meant to suck it up.

    This misstates the situation. The Senate has the right to amend or reject Bills. Under certain conditions this can lead to the dissolution of the Senate, but only if the House is also dissolved. That is, the Senate has tenure – fixed terms – that may only be broken if the House is also dissolved. This is a powerful restraint on the untimely dissolution of the Senate.

    Prior to 1975, it had been assumed the Senate could not by itself procure an election for the House. This respected the Representative nature of the composition of the House. However, if the HoS plays along, 1975 showed it is possible for the Senate to bring about the dissolution of the House. Unless s.57 triggers exist, the Senate could remain in place even though the House would be dissolved. This places the House – the democratically-elected chamber – in an inferior position. It says elections count only as long as the Senate and the HoS are willing to allow them to count. It’s anti-democratic rubbish.

    And why wasn’t Kerr open and honest with Whitlam?

    Because at any hint of removing Whitlam, Whitlam would likely fire off a telegram to the Queen to remove Kerr.

    This does not create an environment where the two can work openly together to try deal with the issues.

    You create the environment where they can work together and ’75 probably doesn’t occur.

    How do you create that environment?

    Remove the threat to Kerr’s tenure.

  35. Come one Bludgers, don’t tell me you are still chasing Turnbull’s latest red herring?

    When and if, and it is a very big if, Turnbull actually turns this latest brainfart into a policy or even a viable action, then I will spend hours on this blog debating models and Presidents and elections .

    Until then, I ask again, what is this misdirection about? Why is the failed magician waving around his silk handkerchief? Is it to distract you from the other hand stealing your gold watch, or the sound of the decaying venue being pulled apart while you sit in it?

    There is only one thing I care about, everything else can wait. We have to get this mob of perfidious, lying, megalomaniacal, cheating, untrustworthy, cruel, contemptuous parasites out of power in out federal parliament while there is still a chance to reverse the incredible damage to our country, our society and our environment.

    Do not speak to me about a republic.

  36. Trog

    Have also spent some of my holidays researching Bitcoin, and the Blockchain technology which underpins it.

    Disclosure: I have a few ASX listed Blockchain exposed companies, namely DCC, FGF and RFN. These are penny stocks which have rocketed in value in recent times due to the hype around Bitcoin – the best is DigitalX (DCC) if you want to dabble, and are prepared to lose 100% or fluke the next Computershare.

    So onto my research anecdotes. Blockchain is the disruptive technology, having its history in implementations like BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer architectures. There are no centralised servers, well mostly, although those wanting to monetise the technology are hybridising to get the necessary optimisation and reduce security risk. Blockchain has many disruptive uses, and as noted, the disintermediation is the most promising. Why do we need banks, supermarkets, insurance companies, governments…. when everyone has a mainframe equivelant masquerading as a phone?

    A few drivers are firstly, the Millenials, who are used to concepts in massive online platforms like Starcraft where you mine resources, get digital assets and then use them. Are these digital assets real? If they have value to you, they are. So you collect the assets – let’s call them coins- and you trade them for something else. Sounds like airline frequent flyer points? FlyBuys? Coupons for whatever? Something to barter with a farmer, manufacturer, foreign player?

    The number of clever investment banking types who have spilled over into crypto currencies- the term used for these coins – because they are based on encryption schemes to ensure their integrity – has led to a new industry. There used to be IPOs, Initial Public Offerings – now we have ICOs, Initial Coin Offerings, where a new crypto currency with some sort of backing. There has been around 1,400 such ICOs in the last year – all wanting to be ‘the next Bitcoin’. Nearly all the ICOs are based on Blockchain technology as is Bitcoin, and have the concept of a distributed ledger.

    There have been crypto currency exchanges set up, which is another boom area as trading in the coins is a way of monetising them. Regulators are trying to catch up, with issues like money laundering and capital gains tax front of mind. Interestingly, the biggest volume player in crypto currency transactions is South Korea – making good use of the fibre to every home.

    Is all of this real? Maybe, maybe not. But worth understanding.

  37. “We have to get this mob of perfidious, lying, megalomaniacal, cheating, untrustworthy, cruel, contemptuous parasites out of power in out federal parliament while there is still a chance to reverse the incredible damage to our country, our society and our environment.”

    I want that. And the Republic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *